Madison Highland defeats North Valley Christian, 9-1
September 15, 2023 by Marco Radice-Morras, Arizona State University
Marco Radice-Morras is an ASU Cronkite School of Journalism student assigned to cover Madison Highland Prep for AZPreps365.com
Madison Highland cruised to a 9-1 road win against North Valley Christian in their second conference game of the season on Thursday evening, powered by hat tricks from forwards Josiah Martinez and Noah Bethell.
Martinez also recorded three assists to cap off a phenomenal individual performance, which he aims to use as confidence going into the season's remaining games.
"It gives me confidence, and I hope to keep these numbers up,” Martinez said. “I've done well this season, and the performance today gives me belief that I can keep going strong."
The Heat took the lead after two minutes with Martinez feeding the ball through to striker Voss Sellers, who raced past the Lions' center back before shooting past the goalkeeper.
Despite being largely untroubled for most of the match, Heat goalkeeper Oliver Morlan pulled off a brilliant save with his outstretched right leg in the ninth minute of the game, keeping Madison Highland in front.
The Lions rued their missed chance, as six minutes later, Martinez's tricky footwork allowed him to breeze past the Lions' right back, before setting up Bethell, who dispatched the ball into the top corner to double the Heat's lead.
The Heat showed no signs of slowing down as in the 23rd minute Daniel Dominguez, Madison Highland's junior midfielder, made it 3-0 with a stunning strike. After a headed clearance, the ball fell to Dominguez, before hitting a dipping volley from around 30 yards over the goalkeeper.
Madison Highland's ruthlessness remained as again Martinez was at the forefront of the action. Two minutes after their third goal, Martinez picked up the ball in the midfield, driving forward and laying the ball off to Dominguez, who converted with a fine finish on the edge of the Lions’ box to make it 4-0.
The Heat's dominance in midfield was evident as they retrieved and retained possession throughout the match. Lions coach Jason Shaw noted this as a key issue in his team's performance.
"Our transition on defense was an issue,” Shaw said. “We gave up too much space between our defense and midfield."
Madison Highland's mercilessness continued as they scored three more goals in three minutes. Martinez scored the Heat's fifth in the 29th minute, thanks to his fancy footwork and rapid pace being too much for the Lions’ defenders to handle.
Bethell then scored two goals in quick succession to wrap up his hat trick, putting the Heat ahead, 7-0, before halftime.
The second half proved less eventful, as North Valley Christian grabbed a consolation goal three minutes after the restart as Noah Tabak lofted a free kick into the box, which was eventually stabbed home by Bentley Schwartz.
The Lions’ goal, arguably against the run of play, proved to have little effect on the game as the Heat continued to dominate possession and control the game. Heat coach Curtis Watson hailed his players’ commitment through the full 80 minutes.
"They ran hard out there and gave 100 percent throughout the match," Watson said.
Martinez sealed his hat trick and 14th goal of the season in the 56th minute with another fine finish into the bottom corner.
Madison Highland (6-1, 1-1) will host Chino Valley (2-1, 0-0)on Tuesday at 6 p.m.